Dear Mr. Milner,
Thank you for your enquiry about enabling access for broadband in Badminton. I apologise for this delayed response.
May I first assure that the Government is fully committed to making the Broadband market more extensive and competitive. Our target is to have the most extensive and competitive broadband market in the G7 by 2005. Extensiveness means extending the broadband networks to households and businesses throughout the country, including everyone living in rural and remote areas.
Competitiveness means providing consumers with value for money, and a wide variety of product choice in the market and we are making good progress.
BT is continuing to upgrade exchanges to ADSL. However, issues such as which exchanges should be upgraded to ADSL, or how many interested users are needed to make the web sites commercially viable, are investment decisions solely for BT. As BT is a private sector operator, the Government cannot intervene in its business decisions.
Whilst ASDL will supply much of UK's high-speed Internet access needs, it will not provide the whole solution. Current technology limits the availability of ADSL to lines that are shorter than 5.5km in length (in practice this approximately equates to properties that are in a 3.5km radius of the local exchange). BT has developed the following website to everyone informed as to which exchanges throughout the UK that being enabled for ADSL: www.adslguide.org.uk/. However, broadband services are increasingly being made available via a range of alternative technologies, for example, wireless networks and broadband satellite, which has the potential to cover the whole country. Most telecom operators such as BT usually supply contact details of their personnel on their own web sites.
The Government believes strongly in the free market as the driver for broadband. Nevertheless, the Government realises that left to itself the market will not always deliver what some people will require. Not only is broadband important for the national economy, but we think that it is equally important for local and regional economies. Around two thirds of the UK population is covered by a mass-market terrestrial broadband solution, but there are still many people in rural parts of the country, who cannot access an affordable and reliable broadband service.
The public sector as a user of broadband will be a major driver for the introduction of broadband services throughout the country.
Modern, high quality public services to which the Government is committed, will require the use of modern communication networks. In the English regions, the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) will have a total of £1.8bn this year to spend on furthering economic development and regeneration.
On 20 November, the Government launched the UK Broadband Task Force (UKBTF), whereby a broadband expert will be introduced into each of the English regions to stimulate economic development and enhance the delivery of public services through the extension of regional and local broadband services. Further details are available from their web www.broadband.gov.uk.
Under the £30m Broadband Fund, the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Devolved Administrations are developing and starting on projects under this funding stream to develop innovative schemes to extend broadband access. Details of a range of schemes have been announced. The South West Regional Development Agency is disseminating details about innovative broadband schemes in your region, including those benefiting more rural areas: further details of current initiatives are available from their web www.southwestrda.org.uk.
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